Rev. Mark Dicken & Rev. Tara Keehn
2637 McCool Road, Portage, IN 46368
Issue VIII August 2017
FROM THE PASTOR
I recently read an online article by Thom S. Rainer in which he offered some insights on the roadblocks to church revitalization. He pointed out that two-thirds of churches nationwide are plateaued or in decline and many declining churches are on the edge of closing. I’ve just completed eight years as the Chairman of our Indiana Conference Board of Trustees and one of our responsibilities has been to sell or otherwise dispose of church properties when the congregations ended their ministry to their neighborhoods and communities. Each time I’ve wistfully wondered what happened to those churches and whether it could have been prevented.
Our annual conference (the statewide connection of United Methodist people and churches) is urging all pastors, local church leaders and members to read Milfred Minatrea’s book Shaped By God’s Heart by the end of this year. This book focuses on shifting the local church from “doing church” to “being the church” and shifting from being “mission-minded” to being “missional.” You’ll be hearing more about this in the coming weeks and we encourage you to become informed about this by reading the book and by engaging in the Fruitful Congregation’s Journey process with others in our church.
We know our church needs revitalization. Are there attitudes and behaviors we need to be mindful of to turn it around? I offer some of the roadblocks Thom Rainer identifies for our consideration.
1. Comfort/resistance to change. This theme has been repeated many times. But there is a reason for the redundancy: It’s true. Until our church leaders and members redirect the focus of self-serving to serving others, church members will always be more concerned about my needs. That attitude leads to comfort and resistance to change.
2. Lack of knowledge. Because many of our churches have been negligent about reaching beyond their own walls, they lack the knowledge to know how to get out of the rut and revitalize. Many church leaders and members have good intentions; they simply don’t know the next steps.
3. Despair and defeatism. It’s a vicious and deadly cycle. Churches begin to decline. That decline leads to despair and defeatism. Then that attitude exacerbates the decline, and thus leads to greater despair and defeatism.
4. Perception that programs are ends instead of a means. “If only we used the program that worked so well twenty years ago.” “If only our denomination gave us the right programs.” There are two erroneous ways of thinking about programs. The first is to reject programs and resources altogether. That is just not wise with the abundance of great programs available. The other erroneous perception is to see programs as the ends instead of the means. That is the attitude of the program-driven church.
Happy August Birthday to…
01 Lauren Falk 09 Nikki Monahan 19 Joshua Hoover
01 John Shebel 10 Sue Miller 21 Keira Candiano
02 Branden Hamilton 10 Skyler Smith 22 Doug McKiddy
02 Veda Shadwell 10 Darius Pinarski 24 Judy Hedstrom
02 Paul Pollachek 10 Marilyn Thorn 25 Kate Blakely
03 Harley Parks 11 Virginia Sapp 28 Terry Nohr
03 Tara Keehn 13 Mary Jane Frahm 28 Scott Riley
03 Julia Graff 14 Katie Cunningham 28 Ryan Smith
05 Rob Liesch 15 Michael Candiano 30 Connie Ellefson
06 Jenny Brown 15 Lori Monahan 30 Matt Chelich
07 Chuck Phillips 16 Lois Finney 31 Benny Wright
08 Evelyn Kegley 17 Beth Wrigley
09 Shelli Kwiatkowski 18 Dorothy Peterson
Happy August Anniversary to…
02 Don & Mary Cooper 13 Scott & Kim Bilkey
04 Bob & Shari Warne 14 Dean & Kathy Cunningham
04 Norm & Margi Hamstrom 14 Steve & Lorri Davenport
05 Jeff & Sharon Kaiser 17 Scott & Lil Falk
07 Darren & Lisa Warne 21 Eddie & Jessica Karsten
07 Bob & Leigh Romanov 23 Chuck & Vicki Mason
09 Harley & Pam Parks 25 Brian & Heather Burns
10 Joe & Melissa Medina 26 Grant & Lori Monahan
11 Chuck & Madelyn Lorenz
Have you checked out the church web site??
The address is: http://www.portageumc.org
Sundays @ 10:00am Sunday School
Wednesdays @ 11:30am Brown Bag Bible Study
Thursdays @ 6:00am Breakfast at Schoops
Remember your church in your will.
First Friday Fellowship will meet Friday, August 4th at 5:00pm at Pesto’s’ Italian Restaurant, 3123 Calumet Ave. Valpo. Come join us for fun and fellowship. R.S.V.P to Sande Robinson at 764-8433.
REVIEWING THE EXPERIMENT
At the end of an experiment, good scientists review what happened. We’ll be doing the same thing regarding our Summer Experiment on Sunday, August 13 and Sunday, August 20 during the Christian Education time (10:10-10:50 AM) in the Sanctuary. All are welcome to participate in one or both of these reviews.
The United Methodist Women are sponsoring a holiday craft show Saturday, October 28th from 9am – 2pm and are looking for crafters and vendors to participate. Cost is $35 per 8’ table with 2 chairs ($25 for church members). Please contact Sandra Robinson at 764-8433 or Fran Berry at 763-7149 for information or an application form.
Freed Up Financial
With school starting and Fall on the horizon, it's time to think about Fall classes! We had a great first experience with "Freed Up Financial" in the Spring. Budgeting is a concern for almost everyone! Whether you're young, old, or middle aged, high or low income, budgeting is a necessity! Join us for a great class that will help walk you through budgeting and prioritizing your income (big or small!) to help you achieve God's plan for you to be freed up, financially! Class times and dates to be announced. I am considering offering it in both a two 3-hour day workshop and six 1-1.5 hour sessions. Books will cost about $25. If you are interested, please call or text Pastor Tara at 219-608-5150.
We also have our next blood drive coming up Friday, August 4th from 1:30-6:30 pm. There has been an emergency blood shortage, so I would like to encourage anyone who is able to donate to help save lives! Thank you to all who donate!
5. Lack of awareness about the community. Most churches in need of revitalization really don’t know the community in which they are located. If they happen to open their eyes to the community’s demographics and needs, they are often shocked about their misperceptions.
6. Evangelistic apathy. This roadblock is pervasive in our churches. If we aren’t sharing the gospel, how can we expect to reach people with the gospel?
After all, what is our mission? It is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world – and while you and I are called to become better disciples of Jesus our first priority as a church is to make new disciples.
See you in church!
In Christ and in hope,
AUGUST WORSHIP THEMES
August 6 SO, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? Pastor Mark
The miracle of the loaves and fishes might not have happened if the person who had the five loaves of bread and two fish had been unwilling to make them available to the Master. 2,000 years later we do not have a food supply problem, we have generosity problem.
August 13 YOU CAN’T BE A CHRISTIAN UNLESS YOU’RE A DISCIPLE Pastor Mark
Blessing and Anointing for the new school year
Jesus walked on water, but Peter started sinking.
Following Jesus calls for faith, not fear.
August 20 DO NO HARM DOESN’T MEAN DO NOTHING Pastor Mark
The boldness of the Canaanite woman reminds us humility is a Christian virtue, not timidity.
Have we become so inoffensive that we risk irrelevance?
August 27 WHO DO YOU MEASURE UP TO? Pastor Mark
History is full of false messiahs and humans do not always hold themselves up for measurement by the right standard. Jesus is the ultimate role model for humans and the best representation of what God is like.
Earn all you can.
Save all you can.
Give all you can.
John Wesley’s Rules for a Christian’s Use of Money
How are you doing? Are you earning all you can in ways that do not harm others or yourself? Are you saving all you can by letting your faith inform your consumption and spending? Are you giving all you can by tithing (10%) your income or giving as sacrificially and generously as you can?
Summer is a time when many of us take time away from home, from work and from church. This not only results in a decline in worship attendance, it also results in a decline in giving back to the Lord through the church. This summer has not been an exception to the trend.
Our church is not in danger of insolvency, but the drop in giving is forcing us to defer or delay some of our regular and ordinary obligations and expenses. This includes our not giving our fair share to ministries of the North District and the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church for shared ministry and mission. In effect, we are expecting others to give their fair share and ours.
Several leaders of our church have stepped up with extra giving and we thank them for their faithful leadership by example. We ask you to follow their example if you are able.
What are some ways you might sacrifice for the sake of generosity to God through our church?
• If you sacrificed 1 Venti Latte at Starbucks each week, you could give an additional $20 per month over and above your current giving.
• Renting one fewer DVD or video game from the convenient red vending machines each week could allow you to give an additional $2-3 a week.
• You could increase your giving by one dollar each week. If you are currently giving $50 per week, you could give $51 the first week, $52 the second week, $53 the third week and so on.
• Sacrificing one meal in a restaurant a month would allow you to give $20, $30, $40 or more additionally each month.
• These are not the only ways and we invite you to share your sacrifices with your family and your friends in our church.
If you use online banking, could you set up a discipline of automatic giving? This would allow you to continue your faithful stewardship even when you are away, avoiding the need to remember to catch up when you return.
A few folks have been confused between our General Fund and Debt Reduction Fund, thinking that they were giving to help meet our ongoing expenses and obligations by designating their giving to Debt Reduction. All of our ongoing expenses for utilities, supplies, curriculum, salaries and fair share giving to our district and annual conference are paid through our General Fund. The Debt Reduction Fund is used only to pay our mortgage and to repay an old loan from our own Endowment Fund. Our policy is to retain a prudent reserve of $5,000 in this fund and whenever we have more than that amount after making our monthly debt repayment expenses to promptly make extra payments toward the principal of our mortgage. We are doing very well at this and have made substantial extra payments which will shorten the time of our loan debt and save us interest, but those designated gifts should be second-mile giving over and above our tithe or sacrificial giving to the General Fund which supports our ongoing ministries and mission. If you feel you must choose to direct your giving to only one fund, please give to the General Fund. We want to be debt-free as soon as we reasonably can, but not at the cost of diminishing our present ministry.
Faithful, sacrificial, generous stewardship is much more than keeping the lights and air-conditioning on. It is worship of God, an expression of our love of Jesus and his church. If you have any questions, please feel free to speak with members of our Finance Committee or Pastor Mark.
Mission Committee News
Hope you are all feeling God's blessing during this hot but beautiful month of August! Just wanted to share a couple of notes.
First, thank you so much for all your donations of breakfast food for the Portage Township Food Pantry! Your generosity brings blessing to many less fortunate people around the community. Can you help again this month? In August, we are asking for donations of various types of pasta and/or pasta sauce. If you are able to donate, please place your items on the table in the Fellowship Hall. (Thanks!)
We would also like to welcome Diana Gymrek to the Missions & Outreach Committee. Diana has a heart as big as Texas and is ready to jump in and help make a difference. (Thanks Diana!) We won't have a scheduled meeting in August, but will meet again in September. In the meantime, if you have missions or outreach ideas or questions, please feel free to contact any of the committee members.
Have a blessed month!
Your Missions and Outreach Committee (Wendy Smith, Annette McCarty, Pastor Tara Keehn, Kate Blakely, and Diana Gymrek)
Rev up your engines once again! 12th annual Car show
Well it's that time of year again, to rev up your engines for our very own 12th annual car show here at Portage First! This year’s event will be held Saturday, August 12th from 9am to awards @ 4 pm.
So mark your calendars for this day to set aside for good times!
This year's show will be exciting as ever with the Wolfgang singers from Hobart. Also, we may have the return of Sunday Glory as well! A bounce house for the children, oldies music, hula hoop and watermelon eating contests to name a few. Surprises, food and snacks galore!
Whatever you do don't miss this event there will be something for everyone! Fun! Fun! Fun!! Oh! Let's not forget all the amazing classic cars! If you know someone with a cool car, let them know! All proceeds will help benefit Family Promise. We are looking for donations for the goodie bag items for the show participants also donations for door prizes any car related item would be great! You can drop off any of these items at the church office or contact Steve Massow. Our goal is to have a wonderful event and through your kindness and generosity we may just bring another soul into the kingdom of Christ!
For more information about Family Promise or the car show contact the church office at 762-3846 or Steve at 742-0926. There are flyers for information and car registration on the Welcome Center so as the Fonz would say be there or be square!!!!!
Fall Christian Education teachers needed!
As we gear up for fall and get closer to school starting we are in need of people in our church willing to help teach our Christian Education classes for our kids and youth. Christian Education meets from 10:10-10:50 and we have all the curriculum planned out for you. There’s minimal prepping that you’ll have to do, just look over the lessons and be willing to share God’s love with the younger generations in our congregations. We need teachers for a variety of age’s preschool all the way to high school
Please see Kate Blakely with any questions or if you are interested in volunteering.
Sign-up sheets for more information are available at the connection center.
Summer of Service
From June 29-July 2 members of our youth group & leaders took part in a collaborative effort with 27 other churches to do the Summer of Service missions trip and impact the Michiana community with the love of Jesus... There were 42 work groups who traveled all over the Michiana area doing various service & kindness activities. We did various projects - $1 car washes (where we paid the recipients $1 rather than them paying us!), praying with people in the community, repairs on houses, neighborhood block parties, pulling weeds and light landscaping at camps, parks, businesses & private residences, and spending time at nursing homes. We did these acts of kindness with no strings attached, and no money taken to illustrate exactly how God’s love comes to us – with no strings attached.
Thank you to the PFUMC Missions team for donating money to this cause to help offset the cost for our students. We’re already looking forward to SOS 2018, June 28 - July 1
Come join us for movie night!!!! For the adults we will feature “Hidden Figures”, the true story of African American Women who served as the brains behind John Glenn’s space orbit.
For the little ones we will be showing “Finding Dory”…older folks are welcome as well!
Dinner that evening will be baked mostaccioli, salad and garlic bread.
See you there!
August Youth (middle & high school) Happenings
Saturday August 5 or 19 (depending on interest & availability)
Youth Excursion to Edge Adventure Park (at Deep River Water Park)
Edge Adventures aerial parks are treetop trails ranging from 16-60 feet in the air. Participants choose their own self-guided course and engage in a combination of obstacles and zip lines as they maneuver their way through different trails with a progressive degree of challenges. There are thrills to satisfy all adventure types!
Please let Kate know ASAP if you would be interested in attending. There are a couple of different adventures we can do depending on how many are interested and their ages. The date/time will be decided closer to the excursion date and depends on how many we have wanting to go and what time slots are available closer to the date. Open to incoming 6th graders through 12th graders, must be able to reach 66” with your arms stretched above your head while feet are flat on the ground. Space is limited and contingent on the number of chaperones able to attend.
Friday August 11
Pizza, game & Movie night
Please join us for an evening of food, games and a showing of the cult classic, Napoleon Dynamite
Saturday August 26 @ 5:30 pm - Sunday August 27 @ 7 am
3rd Annual Box City sponsored by Family Promise
We’ll be once again sleeping in cardboard boxes to raise awareness of homelessness in Porter County. At 7 am your parents can either pick you up or with a signed waiver you can head to the church with Kate for some planned activities (or sleeping if you’d prefer) until your parents join us for worship that day.
MPK: Mission Portage Kids
We’ve got a new name and a new look!
Mission Portage Kids will resume September 10. We’ve got a great year planned with a lot of dynamic mission projects.
We’ll have a signup sheet at the connection center after school starts so we can get your t-shirt size to order new shirts. Keep your eyes out for new information coming soon.
Thank you to all who helped make our Mighty Fortress VBS a success this year!